Artists constantly deconstruct and dissect their subjects, reducing them to digestible form or examining them in minute detail, and sometimes it amazes us. Sometimes when we see something broken down, our understanding of how it works improves, and our appreciation is reinforced. Other instances yield unexceptional work that seem to require a master’s degree to unlock and access. The four artists participating in “Middleground” do, in fact, all have undergraduate or graduate degrees from the School of the Art Institute, but fortunately for their audience, what they offer is not only intellectually accessible, but often incredibly appealing for the eyes.
Andrea Myers’ “Fold Unfold” humbly greets you as you enter, with piles of multicolored fabric on the ground stacked largest to smallest. The fabric implies paint stripped from the canvas piece by piece, a literal dissection; the hues on the floor are the brightest you’ll see in the show, as if any pretense and performative flash has been cast off before you have a chance to allow preconceived notions to settle. If you follow Myers’ fabric along the hardwood floor you’ll be lead to her other contribution, two small rectangles of multi-layered paper on the wall, each with central sections peeled away, again from largest to smallest. Exposed layers yield their own slight colors and nearly recede right through the wall. They invite you to get close, to look at the individual fibers of paper swaying in the air where they gave way to the violence of removal.
“Inside Out” by Jerome Acks looks to Mondrian, baring its unstitched and taped underbelly, its loose strings also swaying, casting shadows. It reads like the backside of a nearly complete work, still being formed, refined, which is what makes it so compelling. The work calls to mind the unclarified idea, the still evolving tools with which we communicate pictorially. All four artists use a direct and economical language. With minimal effort, they ask what it is to make art, and by offering their own notes on the process, we can see the literal steps they take toward answering that question. (Damien James)
Through July 25 at Lloyd Dobler Gallery, 1545 W. Division, second floor.